‘Unlocking Poems’ by Andrew Bell

Some words belong to each other.

Others have to be hunted, tamed
and harnessed, to make them work.

Some need a gentle push, then fired up
to ignite others,

or careful watching to hear how they sing,
to see if they’re good for a line or a piece.

In a poem, some people want something
fancy or funny,

but even more, they want things
that are hidden to be unlocked.

And the poet will try to oblige
by gazing upon the swell of images,

swirling behind the surface of things
to bring something back for a dish;

or, by tapping into the secrets
from the further reaches, and plucking them,

like hooked fish, to let them speak.
Others might look further still: by crossing

the threshold of voice and fire, into the holy
ground of silence, where gentle thought-winds

emerge and coalesce, they would whisk them
into shape and form, and land them on the page.

And some poets may just sit quietly and think,
letting the words flow through, with the ink.

Then writing becomes a joy as they let it run,
chasing lines by colour, form, and scent,

watching leaves and flowers spring up along
each branching thought,

learning to listen, as the poem begins to speak,
making sure to set it free, when all that’s done.

New year, new prompt!

Not written anything in 2021 yet? Well… shame on you! I know, I know, its all been a bit trying over the last, well, last year really, and Christmas was absolutely no exception (hope you managed a good one somehow or another despite restrictions). But come on now, brace yourselves, lets get this show on the road and get something down on paper. It really doesn’t matter what you write, nobody else needs to see it, just get writing.

Personally, I love a free-write. That is to say, write for a set number of minutes (I usually give myself 20 mins) starting with a particular subject, no punctuation, no lifting the pen (or your fingers if you’re typing), and no stopping to think. Just write the junk that spills from your mind – a bit like word association. It’s amazing what connections you can unexpectedly (and often, unexplainedly (is that a word?? ’tis now…) come up with, and they’re more often than not a good kick-start to a cracking story, poem or piece of creative non-fiction.

With the current lockdown now firmly in place, I thought ‘Lock’ might be a good starting point. Some of the things I’ve come up with are:

What is locked ? Doors; cupboards; trunks; wardrobes; diaries; hearts; personalities; minds; err…. lockdown (of course)….

Why are they locked? How do you open them? Where is the key? If you open them, what’s inside? Do you need another key? Are you locked in, or locked out?

Well, I could go on, but I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty of other ideas. I’d love to see the resulting work, so get writing….. Write Now!!

‘Glum Fairy’ by Kaye Locke

Not my finest work perhaps, but seasonal!!

Rebooting

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I’m feeling a bit guilty about this since I actually love our ‘silly fairy’ who is pictured here.  We’ve had her for years, she replaced glum fairy, who does still live in the box (well, you can’t throw fairies out can you?), but never gets to sit on the tree because of her holier than thou demeanor.   Merry Christmas!

I’ve never been fond of the fairy
that sits upon our tree
she looks so glum
with that branch up her bum
I think she’s judging me

She lives in a box in the attic
from new year through to yule
amongst the other dusty things
I suppose it does seem cruel

Her silver dress gets wrinkled
her wings they get all bent
and as for that shiny halo
I’ve no idea where it went

She glares at me from the tree top
as I drink my wine
and scowls…

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‘A Journey Through Two Centuries of Death’ by Barrie Purnell

Stone pillars mark the entrance to a graveyard of Victorian times
An immense copper beech stands as this burial ground’s concierge,
Unmoved by the heavy limbed mourners passing in their sad cortege
Or the furtive lovers seeking solace under the cherries and the limes.

Golden needles clothe the path below a cathedral arch of pines
A hundred years of history hidden by their time-chiseled bark,
Against their majesty mere humans struggle to make their mark
We proceed quietly, as penitent pilgrims would approach a shrine.

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‘Passing On’ by Andrew Bell

Andrew has written this poem in response to our last prompt of ‘Rite’. Andrew says: ‘I thought it would be interesting to take a look at ‘death’, our very last rite of passage. For some, there is no death as such, only an entrance into a fuller life, whereas for others, it’s prospect can provoke anxiety or dread, compounded by a fear of the unknown or a fear of loss. In this poem, I have tried to strike a more positive note by considering if there is an antidote to this very common fear. And it’s not easy!’

Passing on

If I could reach into the silence
to a still point

where memory and desire
are no longer stirring

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Prompt of the week

There are certain things in life that it is pretty much guaranteed we’ll all experience at some point or another – first kiss, passing exams, first job, falling in love, then out again….. they could all be described as ‘rites of passage’. The Collins dictionary has a couple of definitions of rite:

  1. a formal act which forms part of a religious ceremony
  2. a custom that is carried out within a particular group

Now, not being of a religious bent, I know not a lot about religious ceremonies, but, I do recognise that I indulge in lots of customs within my family, especially at Christmas. From watching ‘Carols from Kings’ on Chrismas Eve, to mince pies and bucks fizz for breakfast amongst the wrapping paper on Christmas morning, and noisy board games in the evening, the rites of Christmas day are set in stone (there are plenty more, but I won’t bore you). Of course, this year things may be different, we’ll still have those ‘rites’ but they may be postponed until we can get together… that might be Easter the way things are going…! I’ll record Carols from Kings just in case.

Anyway, I expect you’ve guessed what all this nonsense is leading to? Yep, this week’s prompt is:

Rite

Let’s hear about the customs/traditions of your family, or one of your own ‘rites of passage’, or perhaps a wedding or baptism, diwali, hanukkah, Wesak or Yuan Tan or any other religious festival that I haven’t thought of (sorry, I told you I know nothing..). As always write in any form you like – poetry, prose, fiction/non-fiction, give it a go. Actually, come to think of it, this site is getting a bit poetry heavy, a bit of flash fiction or some such would be most excellent! Can’t wait to read your pieces.

‘Smart’ by Andrew Bell

You’re smart because your dad was smart.

I’m simple because my mum and dad led
simple lives.

You’re smart because you can think
on your feet, and make speeches
without notes.

I’m simple because I don’t think like you
and don’t make speeches.

You’re smart because you think your Queen’s
English is a passport to success.

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‘Selection Box’ by Barrie Purnell

Barrie has written this in response to our last prompt ‘Object’. Barrie says:This was written from the point of view of a tree which is not
in control of its own destiny. Unlike a tree we have freedom
of choice, there is nothing inevitable about our own destiny.
No third party can determine our worth but if we ask “Why me?”
life is likely to answer “Why not?” There is nothing fair about
life except in the fact we all suffer the same ultimate fate.

SELECTION BOX

I was born in Brazil as a proud tall tree
When, with no thought to my future or history,
I was chopped down and fed to a paper mill
Then chipped and shredded and pulped until,
I was reduced by various machinations
To a fine fibrous slurry of human creation.

They bleached some of us so we were whiter
To become high quality paper for writers.
Handled with care as befitted their status,
Processed at great cost in stainless steel apparatus.
So it was by this casual act of selection
Their lives would take a different direction.

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